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Obama backs former U.N. envoy in state treasurer race

November 4, 2016

tribune staffwriter

President Barack Obama formally endorsed Democrat Joe Torsella for state treasurer earlier this week.

Torsella is running against Republican Otto Voit, who has served for the past 19 years as president of the Keystone Dental Group, which manufactures and distributes products for the dental and cosmetic industries.

“I’m proud to endorse Joe Torsella for Pennsylvania state treasurer,” Obama said in a news release. “I nominated Joe as our representative to the United Nations for Management and Reform, and he did a great job fighting for reform, bringing transparency to the U.N., and saving money for American taxpayers. He has the experience and integrity to protect Pennsylvanian’s money as Treasurer.”

Councilman Jones joins

state human relations board

Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. was confirmed by the state Senate to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

The 11-member board handles complaints from state residents regarding cases involving employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination. Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged harm.

The three-term councilman, whose 4th District comprises about 150,000 people, also serves on the governor’s Crime and Delinquency Commission. Jones is the chairman of city council’s public safety, commerce and economic development panel and vice chairman of its parks and recreation and cultural affairs board.

Paul Katz, president of the University of the Sciences, met with Rep. Jim Roebuck to discuss ways that they could work together for more community engagement by the university.

The university’s campus at 600 S. 43rd St. occupies about 35 acres in the Spruce Hill section of West Philadelphia. The institution, which was originally called the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, has more than 2,250 undergraduates and opened in 1821 as the first school of pharmacy in North America.

Stretch of McClellan Street

renamed to honor activist

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson held an event Tuesday afternoon for the renaming of the 200 block of McClellan Street to James C. ‘Hott’ Hudgins, Jr. Way.

The ceremony was in recognition of Hudgins’ years of service to his community and to memorialize his legacy and love for the city, a statement said.

Johnson introduced the renaming resolution, which the City Council passed in September.

Event will urge veterans

to record military discharge

Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-190) wants veterans to record their military discharge on Nov. 7 as part of the Veterans Record Your Discharge Day in the state.

Discharge records are required when applying for most military benefits and can be helpful for specific job opportunities, in processing wills and estates of veterans and their families.

“All veterans or their families should register their discharge with their county’s Recorder of Deeds or similar office,” Brown said. “Having your discharge on file can make it easier to apply for state and federal veterans programs and can protect you from loss or damage to the original paperwork, and also provide some protection against identity theft.”

Recording the paperwork is free and can be done any day. For more information, call (215) 879-6615.

University of Sciences seeks

to better ties with community

Paul Katz, president of the University of the Sciences, met with Rep. Jim Roebuck to discuss ways that they could work together for more community engagement by the university.

The university’s campus at 600 S. 43rd St. occupies about 35 acres in the Spruce Hill section of West Philadelphia. The institution, which was originally called the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, has more than 2,250 undergraduates and opened in 1821 as the first school of pharmacy in North America.

Black leaders outline network

to report voting problems

Leaders from Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild, the NAACP and the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity are encouraging people to vote on Election Day and noted efforts to monitor any problems.

Joe Certaine, director of the O.V. Catto Initiative; the Rev. Jay Broadnax, president of the Black Clergy; the Rev. Mark Tyler, pastor at Mother Bethel AME and POWER leader; the Rev. Greg Holston, pastor of New Vision Methodist Church and POWER leader; and Rodney Muhammad, president of the local NAACP chapter, held a round-table discussion on Tuesday on the need to cast a ballot during the Nov. 8 elections.

The event was in conjunction with the recruitment of volunteers across the state to monitor key polling precincts and to respond to voter complaints.

Voting troubles can be reported by calling (866) 687-8683.

State earmarks $3.5 million

for trail park in Philadelphia

A groundbreaking ceremony marked initial state grants of $3.5 million for the transformation of the former Reading Viaduct Trail Project. Mayor Jim Kenney, Gov. Tom Wolf and Rep. Mike O’Brien (D-175) were among those in attendance.

The first phase includes work on the elevated portion of the viaduct that runs from 13th and Noble streets to Callowhill Street.

“The transformational project will create a new community space and trail in a neighborhood that completely lacking public amenities and green space,” Wolf said. “Additionally, this investment will support the expansion of both the Callowhill and Chinatown neighborhoods, and promote growth in an underdeveloped neighborhood area near Center City.”

“The progress made on Viaduct Rail Park to date has required great cooperation between the City, Commonwealth, Center City District and a number of other partners,” Kenney said.

“I look forward to seeing that collaboration continue as the Viaduct Rail Park comes to life, adding more green spaces for our residents and visitors to enjoy,” he added.

The $10 million project is expected to be completed in early 2018.

Business leaders urge action

on pension reform bill

Some of the top business organization leaders are calling on state lawmakers to take action on Senate Bill 1071, a compromise pension reform proposal that would affect all new state and public employees.

Gene Barr, CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development; and Rob Wonderling, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, made the appeal to the General Assembly.

“We urge the House and Senate to return to session following the general election and get this critical pension reform bill to the governor’s desk. Comprehensive pension reform is long overdue and needs to be enacted now,” they said in a statement.

“With an unfunded liability that is expected to balloon beyond $60 billion this year, the state’s unsustainable pension systems have been the driving force behind multiple recent credit rating downgrades. Sixty cents of every new dollar in state revenue goes toward pension obligations, which means that the state and school districts are losing a larger share each year of budget expenditures that could be going toward other important state programs, including classroom-focused education funding,” the statement warned.

“Failure to act on the pension reform bill, which has been a No. 1 priority for legislative leaders, business advocacy groups and taxpayers, would only put Pennsylvania down a path to fiscal disaster,” all three said in a statement.

“. . . . If lawmakers don’t act now, taxpayers will continue to assume the bulk of the risk of growing pension costs,” they added.

Newspaper report on lead levels among city’s childrenspurs reaction

After a recent Philadelphia Inquirer investigation revealed that thousands of children in Philadelphia had been exposed to high levels of lead, it prompted a reaction from local government officials.

During a new conference at the Mayor’s Reception Hall in City Hall, state Rep. Donna Bullock was joined by others, including state Sens. Vincent Hughes and Art Haywood along with council members Helen Gym, Curtis Jones Jr., in demanding action from local, state and federal officials.

The article title “Philly’s shame: City ignores thousands of poisoned kids” appeared earlier this week in the newspaper. It noted: “Last year alone, nearly 2,700 children tested in Philadelphia had harmful levels of lead in their blood.”

The report comes in the wake of the uproar over harmful lead levels in the water supply in Flint, Mich., and elsewhere.

Tacony Library gets $1 million

for expansion project

An effort to renovate and expand the 110-year-old Tacony Library received a $1 million boost this week.

The project is part of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s 21st Century Libraries Initiative and will provide the community with modern equipment, public meeting spaces, after-school programs and other services.

“Public education is a critical component of our economic future and libraries an critical component of public education,” said Sen. John Sabatina (D-5), whose district includes the area. “This grant is an investment in our community that will pay dividends for generations.”

The grant is being awarded through the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. While upgrades occur to the library, residents can visit the Tacony Library and Arts Building at 6918 Torresdale Ave.

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